“When talking about improving the quality of our products I mean to take complex measures in all directions,” said the General Director of Solari, Iuri Tkebuchava.
“First of all, we are in close cooperation with large farmers, seed institutions, and breeders, as our high quality product comes from these people. Before being roasted, the sunflower passes through a seven-staged processing process and all of these stages are connected to certain technologies and equipment. Of course such equipment is being newly developed every day and an enterprise which has the ambition to produce high quality products must constantly care about re-equipping its equipment,” he said.
“Another very interesting topic is how to store the raw materials properly, which is closely tied to the ventilation, moisture and regulation of temperature at the warehouse,” Tkebuchava added.
Solari has been operating on the Georgian market since 2014, when it first introduced roasted sunflower seeds for sale in packets.
Solari produces three types of sunflower seeds: roasted sunflower seeds; salty, roasted sunflower seeds; and shelled, roasted sunflower seeds. Also, Solari imports peanuts from China, processes them in Georgia and sells them locally.
“Five years ago we entered the Georgian market with rich experience. We are satisfied with the dynamics of our development but we also think that our business has quite big potential. However, the use of its full potential will require great efforts,” said Tkebuchava.
Successful developments and company achievements have not evaded customers’ attention, and together with over 100 experts of Golden Brand, about 2,000 customers named Solari their favourite sunflower seed company.
Q. Solari imports sunflower seeds from Russia. Why Russia, and have you considered finding alternative markets to import your raw materials from?
A. Let’s start with the fact that the confectionery sunflower market in Russia is very competitive. Accordingly, the quality of the raw material there is quite high.
As for alternative markets, yes, we are considering Ukraine as an alternative market.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find high enough quality and a large enough amount of sunflower seeds in Georgia. Georgia is a small country territorially. Large swathes of land are needed for the production of good quality confectionery sunflower seed. Besides, unfortunately the technologies for processing, drying and storing the sunflower seeds are also at a very low level in Georgia.
Q. As of today the Georgian market is saturated with local as well as imported sunflower seeds. How do you compete with them and how healthy is the competition on the local market?
A. There is healthy competition on the market. To achieve success it is important to work hard, put effort into your work and be purposeful.
As of today 70 companies operate on the Georgian market and Solari takes 20%-21% of the market share. Sales of Solari products increased by 8% in 2018 compared to 2017.
We are satisfied with these results but this does not mean that we are not continuing development. Last year we introduced two new products. This year we are also going to introduce another two sorts of products.
Q. What are the current challenges and also remarkable developments on the Georgian market?
A. The snack market is growing around the world and in Georgia as well. However, if we compare per capita consumption of products in Georgia with those in European countries, we will see that our consumption market is still at the early stages of development.
We also have to admit that our European colleagues are in the forefront in terms of the quality of production equipment and technologies. I am sure that all Georgian entrepreneurs, including us, dream about introducing the latest technologies at their enterprises. But this dream is related to high expenses.
Q. Solari was going to enter international markets. What are the recent developments in this regard?
A. We have had considerable offers from abroad, but we are abstaining from entering any foreign markets as of yet. Deep analysis of the issue convinced us that the company is not yet ready to take this step. As you already know, we are building a new manufacturing complex and we still need to purchase European standard equipment. These are the processes that should be done first of all before even thinking about entering any foreign markets and making an impression there.
Q. Congratulations on winning a Golden Brand award. This was the second Golden Brand win for Solari. What has been your impression – what led Solari to this success in your opinion?
A. The legendary American businessman Joseph Bezos claims in his memoirs that the customer’s desires should be the main thing for any manufacturer. We totally share this opinion and try not to disappoint our customers. Stable quality is the main focus of the work of our company.
I would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to the organizers of the Golden Brand awards and the experts who voted for us in the survey.
The secret to our success is our high quality, and it is precisely that which is appreciated by our customers and is what has made them loyal to Solari for the past five years already.